Inspired by Julian Bunn’s just-released “Puzzles of the Voynich Manuscript” ebook (review to follow), I decided to post a list of a hundred Voynich problems – that is, issues that researchers repeatedly bump into when trying to make sense of the Voynich Manuscript, and yet which nobody seems to have definitively resolved in the last century.

Unlike Julian’s ebook, this list is targeted squarely at existing Voynich researchers. If you are genuinely trying to make sense of the Voynich Manuscript and yet aren’t aware of pretty much all these problems, it could well be that you are not seeing the bigger picture.

Needless to say, good solutions will aim to resolve many (if not all) of these “Voynich problems”: while poor solutions (of which I’ve already seen far too many) tend to target only a few – in fact, I’ve seen a fair few alleged ‘solutions’ that don’t even attempt to resolve any of them.

Realistically, though, given that even the most basic Voynich problems – such as the existence of one or more ‘heavy painters’ – continue to be disputed, I don’t expect this list to dramatically shorten any time soon. But who can tell what the next twelve months will bring? 😉

Bifolio nesting / grouping problems

Herbal quires – were these originally split into A and B pages? [Probably, but we don’t know]
Herbal quires – what was their original layout?
What is the relationship between herbal pages and pharma pages? [Here’s one surprising thing Rene highlighted back in 2010]
Was Q9 originally bound in the way John Grove suggested (i.e. along a different fold) – or not?
Was Q13 originally a single quire, or was it (as Glen Claston proposed) in two Q13A / Q13B parts?
Was Q20 originally a single quire, or was it (as I proposed?) in two Q20A / Q20B parts?
Why are there apparently so many different quire number hands?
What was the relationship between Q8 and Q9?
Where did the nine rosette page originally sit?
Are the two pharma sections reversed relative to their original order?
Are pharma sections explicitly linked to herbal pages? [i.e. by handwriting or textual content]
Were there any intermediate bindings, and can we reconstruct them?
Can we reconstruct the original [possibly unbound] page order?

Ink / Paint Problems

Was there a heavy painter?
Were there multiple heavy painters?
Was the heavy paint added before or after the folio numbers? [Rene: there’s green paint over the “42” folio number]
What kind of paint is the heavy blue paint?
Can we use Raman imaging to separate codicological layers? [Particularly on f116v, but in many other places too]
Were the original paints all organic washes derived from plants etc?

Marginalia Problems

Why are the f17r marginalia unreadable?
Why are the f66r marginalia unreadable?
Why are the f116v marginalia unreadable?
What language were the Zodiac month names written in?
Were the “chicken scratch” marginalia originally grouped together?
Does the f57v marginalia read ‘ij'(with a bar across the top)?

Page Layout Problems

Why is the first letter of each page so often a gallows character?
Why is the first letter of each paragraph so often a gallows character?
What meaning do long gallows have?
Whay meaning do ornate gallows have?
What is the purpose or function of Horizontal Neal keys?
What is the purpose or function of vertical Neal keys?
Why do lines of text so often end with the EVA letter m?
Why should position on the page affect anything to do with the text?
John Grove called stray sections of text right-justified at the end of paragraphs “titles” – what are these for?
Are there any buried (concealed) titles in the Voynich Manuscript?
Are there any 15th century non-syllabic transposition ciphertexts extant?

Voynichese letter-shape problems

Why are the four gallows shaped in the specific way that they are?
Is the presence of ‘4o’ in 15th century Northern Italian ciphers telling or coincidental?
Is the similarity between ‘aiiv’ / ‘aiir’ and medieval page references telling or coincidental?
Was the ‘v’ (EVA ‘n’) shape written in one pass or two? [There are instances where the ink on the final stroke looks to have been added in a different ink]
Should c-gallows-h be read as one, two, or three glyphs?
Does any known 15th century cipher include steganographic tricks for hiding Roman numbers?
Or indeed for Arabic numerals?

Voynichese word structure problems

In a text of this size there must be numbers somewhere – so where are they?
Do we even know how to parse Voynichese?
Why are words ending in -9 (EVA “-y”) so common?
Might -9 be a token indicating truncation?
Why are words ending in -89 (EVA “-dy”) so common?
What could cause sequences such as “ororor” to appear in the text?
Might ‘or’ be ciphering ‘M’ ‘C’ or ‘X’ or ‘I’? (i.e. Roman numbers that appear repeated)
Why do A section words and B section words have such different average lengths?
Might this be (as Mark Perakh suggested) because of variable-length abbreviation?
Where are all the vowels?
Why is the ratio (number of unique words : number of words) so large compared to normal languages?
Where are all the short words?
Given that the alphabet is so small, could one or more of the letters really be nulls?
“Dain dain dain”, really?
“Qokedy qokedy”, really?
Is 4o- (EVA “qo-“) a freestanding word?
Why is there so little information in a typical Voynichese word?
Why are so many words so similar?

Language/dialect problems

What is driving the differences between Currier A and Currier B?
Can we definitively say that A pages came before B pages?
Can we definitively say that the B system evolved out of the A system?
Can we map A words / letters onto B words / letters?
Can we create an evolutionary order in which the system evolved?
Where does labelese fit into the A/B model?
Are localised vocabulary differences content-driven or system-driven?
Can we determine any unique words or phrases that map between A and B pages?
Is there an inbuilt error rate? (e.g. qo- -> qa-, or aiin -> oiin)
When low-frequence words cluster, is this because of the system, because of semantic reference or because of auto-copying?

Drawing problems

What are the four direction characters in the magic circle page?
What are the four direction characters in the hidden magic circle page?
What are the four direction characters in f57v?
Why is there a mix of real plants and imaginary plants?
Are similar diagrammatic balneo nymphs found in any other 15th century manuscript?
Were the zodiac nymphs inspired by the zodiac nymphs in Vat Gr 1291, or is that just coincidence?
Is the little dragon similarity to the little dragon in a Paris MS telling or coincidental?
Is the cluster of stars the Pleiades, or something else entirely?
Nine rosette page – what’s going on there?
Will we ever identify the freestanding castle in the nine rosette foldout page?
If we reorganize Q9 as per John Grove’s suggestion, a 7-page sequence of ‘planets’ appears – is this telling or merely coincidental?
What was the source of the Zodiac roundels?
Are there multiple drawing layers on the nine rosette page?
Were all the sunflower pages grouped together originally?
Is there any tangible relationship to other Quattrocento herbals?
More generally, why is there such a sustained absence of reference to existing manuscripts?

Dating / history problems

Given the links to Rudolf II’s court, why is there no Rudolfine documentation? Might we have been looking in the wrong places?
What might the supposed connection to Roger Bacon signify? Monastic ownership, perhaps?
Why has the radiocarbon dating range not been explicitly supported by even a single piece of art history?
Why, despite the large number of people who have looked at the Voynich Manuscript in great detail, is there no mainstream art history narrative for it?

Other Voynich problems

Currier thought that a number of different hands contributed to the Voynich Manuscript’s writing – was he correct?
What is the significance of the 17 x 4 ring sequence on f57v? Might it have been an 18 x 4 sequence (e.g. 5 degree steps) but where one pair of letter-shapes has been ‘fused’ to form a fake gallows-like character?
Why did the manuscript’s maker forcibly rub a hole through the vellum? [Not as easy as it sounds, because vellum is strong stuff]
Why use vellum at all?
Why were the two sides of the vellum so heavily equalized?
On f112, is the gap on the outside edge a vellum flaw, or a faithful copy of a vellum flaw in the original document from which it was copied?
Are the main marginalia (e.g. michitonese) by one of the Currier hands?
What are the “weirdos” on f1r all about?

PS: I may not have ended up with exactly 100 Voynich problems, but it’s pretty close to a hundred… and I may add some more along the way. :-p

113 thoughts on “100 Voynich problems that nobody has (yet) solved…

  1. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm said:

    Nick. Too many questions. 🙂

    1). In a text of this size there must be numbers somewhere – so where are they ?
    2). Why are words ending in 9 ( Eva – y ) so common ?
    3).What are the ” weirdos “, on f1r all about ?

    Nick. and bee and ants.
    1. = You’re asking, where are the numbers ? Number to each letter.
    You have to read the text. And you’ll find even year.

    2. = Because the character ” q ” ( no 9 ) is numbered – 1.
    This is letters – a,i,j,q,y. ( substitution )

    3. = Weirdos ? Nick. It is not weirdos ( weirdo ).
    Those are the numbers – 3758. The numbers are the dated ( date ).
    The birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
    3758 – it is the Jewish calendar. For Christians, this is the years first .( 1 ).
    Therefore, it is the number on the first page of the manuscript. The author tells everyone. Suggests. That his writing is based. Jewish substitution.

  2. Josef: fair enough, thanks for making that clear. Gematria has a reputation for being pure 78998314, so it’s nice to be able to see how your argument fits together.

  3. If you have ever written on unlined paper you will notice the lines start to sag as you reach the other side.
    This does not seem to be true with the Voynich. Was the author useing a device like a ruler to keep the lines
    straight ? Would it also explain the lack of desenders ?

  4. Nick,
    I think the big-picture problem is that questions are formulated from certain assumptions which not only bias subsequent discussion but prohibit fruitful use of researchers’ time… and even when solid work is done, if the results run counter to those initial assumptions, the results are ignored.

    So for example –

    who says any of the drawings are about magic? Where does the phrase “magic circle drawing” come from? Where’s the preliminary investigation (and evidence) from which that judgement was made? Is hunting studies of medieval magical texts likely to be a total waste of everyone’s time (as Lynn Thorndike’s opinion of the ms would suggest)?

    When you say:

    “What are the four direction characters in f57v?” – what exactly do you mean? Do you mean “are the four characters meant as personal or ‘race’ portraits?”. Do you mean “which one signifies North, and which South etc.
    (where’s the preliminary study to determine if they do signify directions, peoples.. first we need to evaluate that evidence, before moving on, don’t we)?

    Why is there a mix of real plants and imaginary plants?
    As far as I’m aware, I’m the only person who has ever troubled to analyse these images, rather than the “pre-reading exercise” sort of thing, and it is my conclusion that that there are no imaginary plants here at all.

    Which of course, brings us to two other important issues. What an individual decides impresses them – in your case, a very obvious similarity impresses you, where a hundred and fifty pages of close analysis, with historical, cultural and iconographic comparative evidence leaves you unmoved.
    So the first issue is the particular set of mental blocks, preconceptions, determined expectations etc. in the mind of a given researcher….

    Who decides if a problem has been adequately addressed and answered? And why does a given researcher decide to accept one person’s item of observation but ignore an entire body of more detailed work?

    I’d add that to the list of Voynich mystery questions.

    Are similar diagrammatic balneo nymphs found in any other 15th century manuscript?
    – irrelevant; begs all the fundamental issues that the research should address. I’d say, myself, that “balneo” is a false description; that they are not meant for nymphs; and that it is foolish to describe the range of suitable comparative research as “other fifteenth century manuscripts”. Normally we look for precedents in earlier work, and once more this question is so biased that it is effectively rhetorical.

    Once more…
    Were the zodiac nymphs inspired by the zodiac nymphs in Vat Gr 1291, or is that just coincidence?

    First, the Voynich manuscript contains no series of images representing the 12 constellations of the Roman zodiac, as I’ve already demonstrated; secondly, I dealt with Rene’s favourite manuscript in detail, at length, and shown that the resemblance to that zodiac wheel is superficial and that the ‘nymphs’ in that zodiac represent (or are said to represent) 12 holy virgins.

    “polly has a red ball; peter has a red ball” is a pretty much the older standard in discussions of the images in Beinecke MS 408.

    Is the little dragon similarity to the little dragon in a Paris MS telling or coincidental?

    – once again, this is a rhetorical question – rather like saying “Is this candle-stick’s similarity to the candle-stick on King Gustav’s mantle-piece co-incidental?”

    The correct question for provenancing a problematic item is rather: across what range are candlesticks found of similar form, style and materials? Is there anything like a ‘hallmark’ detail? Was the type indigenous, or imported?

    Is the cluster of stars the Pleiades, or something else entirely?
    – which cluster of stars, exactly?

    Nine rosette page – what’s going on there?
    – well, of course, here again, you are entirely free to ignore the detailed study, the documentation, comparative imagery, historical background and other matter provided by a professional in the field… if it doesn’t suit a theory which you find congenial.

    Will we ever identify the freestanding castle in the nine rosette foldout page?
    Yes, I should think that if people are willing to take the time and effort to open a few books on the history of art, cartography, history, and so forth they may well be able to (a) orient the folio correctly (b) recognise the various stages for the development of this folio’s imagery and even (c) identify that building correctly.

    – Putting all that together, I would consider it most likely meant for the Cilician Armenian port of Laiazzo.

    But this is a very good example of the most pernicious problem affecting this field.

    Questions which *have* been answered are very commonly ignored, and the researcher paid far too much attention of the wrong sort, when the aim of even one or two is self-promotion and promotion of a pet ‘theory’ in despite of all evidence and demonstration.

  5. D.: *sigh*. In turn:

    (1) If you have a better name for the “magic circle drawings”, please feel free to put it forward. You (of course) knew immediately which pages I meant, so they do work as identifiers. And if I or anyone could prove that they were actually “magic circles”, they wouldn’t be on this list. 🙂

    (2) When I ask “what are the four direction characters in f57v?”, I mean “what are the four direction characters in f57v?” If I knew for sure they were actually direction characters, they wouldn’t be on this list.

    (3) I’m glad to hear that you are sure from your analysis that there are no imaginary plants in the Voynich. I’m somewhat less glad to hear that you think that you’re the only person who has ever analysed them seriously. You may encounter a certain amount of dissent and disbelief in this regard.

    (4) If similarities impressed me in the way you think they do, I wouldn’t be posting a list with a hundred unresolved Voynich problems in it.

    (5) Bracketing out entire groups of Quattrocento manuscripts (e.g. balneological, astrological, astronomical, even poor old vat gr 1291 which had its brief flowering of notoriety circa 1460-1465) would seem to be a curiously blinkered way of doing iconographic analysis on a manuscript whose radiocarbon dating points to the 15th century.

    However, if anyone else not posting from the same IP address as you thinks you’re onto something, I’d be delighted to hear from them.

  6. ‘However, if anyone else not posting from the same IP address as you thinks you’re onto something, I’d be delighted to hear from them.’

    Happy to delight you, Nick :]
    Diane and I disagree about many specifics, but I do firmly believe that the solution is to be found in the historical framework she set out. Her bad luck was that when she entered the scene, most serious researchers were stuck deep within a radically different paradigm.

    Specifically the belief in the authoral hypothesis – that the MS was mostly made up by a 15th century creative individual or group – was and is so strong that many people find it impossible to think of it in any other way.

    But well. I do think your list is wonderful when it comes to the text part, which is your core business after all. I’ve often thought that a list much like this would be great as a checklist for proposed text solutions. Like you say, most Champollion- hopefuls would soon notice that they are only able to address a few issues at best.

  7. Nick
    From your point of view, what you say is fair enough.

    From my point of view.. and btw no, I don’t know what folio(s?) you mean when you talk about ‘magic circles’… The diagram with the guy in Mongol costume was one possibility. Folio 57v was another possibility.

    but from my point of view ..the most frustrating aspect of the past decade’s non-advances has not been the time wasted on baseless hypotheses, nor the few foolish persons saying foolish things online, but the way so many persons who are plainly not fools fail to do even basic study and utterly fail to present a solid argument or (in some cases) to honestly represent the range of existing research into a given question.

    As example, you might look up “Voynich map” at Rene’s site, following the link which promises to take you to a list of persons who have argued that matter.

  8. bdid1dr on December 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm said:

    @ Nick: What happened to the questions I posted on this discussion yesterday? Maybe I am a wee bit crazier than usual ? Ennyway ’tis Xmas Eve. Njoy the holidays & salute the New Year with a toddy or a New Puzzle.

    beady-eyed wonder

  9. SirHubert on December 24, 2016 at 6:31 pm said:

    You’re all way ahead of me. I’m still stuck on:

    i) was the text intended to be meaningful, and
    ii) does the text relate to the images

    Anyway, a very happy Christmas to all, and I hope Santa brings the Voynich Nymph Balneo Bathsalts you’ve been wanting all year…

  10. I am temporarily stumped on a couple of the puzzles (I won’t say which). As soon as I resolve those, and not before, I’ll post the works. This may take a while.

  11. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 24, 2016 at 9:28 pm said:

    Sir Hubert. The text is meaningful. And, of course, also relate to the images. 🙂

  12. Very nice – I’m going to borrow some from this comprehensive list for the next revision of “Puzzles”, if you don’t object?

    Thanks for the free publicity 🙂

  13. Anton Alipov on December 24, 2016 at 10:56 pm said:

    > “Why are the four gallows shaped in the specific way that they are?”

    Decomposition of the gallows characters is a plausible explanation. “k” and “f” are decomposed into two basic components – a vertical and a tail modifier (same modifiers as in Cham’s CLS), and “t” and “p” – into two (“q” and a tail modifier) or three – if we decompose the “q” as well (which seems to me quite reasonable).

    They are elevated above the baseline to make the “gallows coverage” possible.

    We discussed that quite extensively at VN this year.

    > “Why is there so little information in a typical Voynichese word?”

    Is there, really? It is usually stated that word entropy of Voynichese is quite “normal”.

  14. Anton: as far as the design of the gallows glyphs go, there seem to be two main opposing schools of thought – (a) that they are purely decorative, or (b) that they are hyper-logical, expressing some kind of 2×2 logical grid. The point of the question was to highlight that there are plenty of people who hold both positions. Of course, my own position is that both of these positions are probably wrong, but proof and disproof are both proving elusive. 🙂

    As far as the genuine information content of Voynichese words (say, its summed second-order entropy) goes, this is a thing that varies considerably depending on the precise way that you parse those words. Unfortunately most people seem to rely on summing the second order entropy of an unparsed EVA transcription, which is completely foolish, because that is not a valid use of a stroke transcription at all.

  15. Julian: generally speaking, I’d really prefer it if you drew up your own list. 😉 And as I mentioned, a proper review of your ebook will follow…

  16. Could you explain your comment regarding entropy measures against an unparsed EVA transcription? Are you implying that a stroke-based transcription carries more or less entropy than a direct transcription from a known alphabet? For example, is the entropy of the word “dad” greater or less than the entropy of the word “c l a c l”, which is what a stroke-based transcription might have it? Or have I missed your point?

    Regarding your list: understood!

  17. Julian: you’re describing the first-order entropy of a text, but I’m describing the second-order entropy (unpredictability relative to the preceding token’s context). There’s a world of difference between the two!

  18. I suggest a 101st question which I regard as crucial. Did the creator of the VMS originate the entire contents out of his own head or was there an exemplar, an existing text of which the VMS is some kind of encryption, translation, obfuscation or parody?

    If, as I suspect, there was an exemplar, some features of the VMS (quires, page layout, word structure, languages etc) will be properties of the exemplar while others will turn out to be artefacts of the manufacturing process, and an important test of any plausible decipherment will be that it reveals which are which.

  19. Quite so – I haven’t measured the second order entropy for the EVA transcription myself, only the Shannon, and so I wonder how it compares to Glen Caston’s voyn_101 transcription (if that is indeed not stroke based?). I recall the Shannon entropy is about the same for both EVA and voyn_101.

  20. Julian: Glen Claston’s voyn_101 transcription was glyph-based (and hence based on his particular parsing model), which makes it a very different kind of beast from EVA (which is stroke-based, and hence intended to be model-neutral). And so yes, the two would have radically different kinds of contextual (i.e. higher-order) entropy values.

  21. Philip: this is essentially what I’m thinking about when I talk about my “block paradigm” – if we can identify, using structural similarities, a text from which even a small section of the Voynich Manuscript’s text was derived, then we can start to work out the mapping process by which the latter was derived from the former.

    But to my mind, this is not really a “problem” as such, so much as an absence of a route to an answer. 🙂

  22. Emma May Smith on December 25, 2016 at 3:11 pm said:

    Some of these problems are not problems. They are simply hypotheses that have been presented but failed to gain broad backing. One example is Neal Keys. Neal’s observations may have been good, but the hypotheses built on them may still be wrong. I’ve never seen any good reason to believe them and, indeed, seen very little argument in support of them. Nobody seems to mention them but you, Nick.

    The same would go for [or] enciphering numbers or [aiin] and [aiir] enciphering page numbers. Just because they’ve been presented there’s no reason for anybody to specifically refute them if they’re not compelling in the first place.

  23. Emma: Neal Keys are real and supported by plenty of observations. All the while the associated hypotheses remain uncertain, how can the whole topic be anything but a problem? The problem here isn’t the hypotheses, but how best to respond to the observations. But perhaps nobody else mentions Neal Keys because their existence would tend to undermine well-loved hypotheses about the manuscript as a whole? And so it is – as I indicated in the post – easier for many to bracket out the observations than actually respond to them.

    So I’m sorry to say that you’re kind of reaffirming the point of the post.

    As far as numbers go, a document of the size and apparent heterogeneity we see in the Voynich Manuscript would seem highly likely to contain numbers of some sort as a distinctive visual motif in some way. And so it is surely a point of some difficulty for those proposing purely linguistic explanations that they cannot point to anything remotely resembling numbers in the text.

    The resemblance of aiiv and aiir to medieval page references works the other way round: for if they resemble them so strongly and yet are clearly not themselves medieval page references, what is going on? That is, again, only not a problem for you if you choose to bracket it out.

    Hence I guess what I’m really talking about in this post is about how people’s desires to explain the Voynich Manuscript’s many features so often lead them to bracket out problematic stuff that fails to fit whatever neat pattern they have in mind. But how can bracketing stuff out be a genuinely good way of trying to solve it?

  24. Philip Neal,
    As ever, I can offer no informed opinion about the text’s written part, but having spent now almost seven years’ in detailed analysis and research of the imagery, it is my opinion that the imagery was obtained from two distinctly different avenues, and exemplars, or more exactly groups of exemplary works.

    The sections which include the botanical images and the “roots and leaves” section indicate transmission from the eastern side of the Mediterranean to the western (Latin European) environment no earlier than the mid-twelfth century, excluding some few details. The stylistics here indicate transmission from further east through Mesopotamia/Syria.

    By contrast, the sections which include anthropoform figures generally called ‘nymphs’ show connection to the higher, overland routes from east to west.

    For me the most interesting thing is that the greater part of both sections evinces a pre-Christian and Hellenistic origin, with most of the botanical folios’ having a first enunciation (in my opinion) around the 2ndC BC. Imagery accrues signs of later local cultural practice, of course, so it’s not quite so simple, but that’s the overall character.

    The ‘nymphs’ folios, on the other hand appear to me to derive from customs and habits appropriate to the 1st-3rdC AD.

    I published these conclusions as early as 2010-11, and since then I’ve been mostly posting detailed studies of particular folios and sections.

    As far as the written part of the text goes, I strongly suspect that it took its present form during the Mongol (Yuan) period, and I’d be curious to learn whether anyone has considered that it may not be a “pure” script at all: not pure cipher and not pure ‘alphabet’, but perhaps the equivalent of turning a foreign ‘cursive’ script into the equivalent of block letters, the easier for the non-native user to read.

    Just a thought.

  25. bdid1dr on December 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm said:

    So, Nick: Am I being ignored for translating the contents of the image which appears as a jigsaw puzzle on this page ? Note that I don’t bracket out problematic stuff. I’m referring to the four corners of the “puzzle pieces”. My discussion of the central features also seems to have disappeared (in the moon and tides) .

  26. Emma May Smith on December 25, 2016 at 4:22 pm said:

    Hi Nick, I’m not sure why you believe there would be distinctive numerals. Any numbers might simply be written out in full. Numerals might even be present as secondary uses of the script. It’s not remotely difficult for linguistic research that there are no distinctive numerals. I’ve literally never worried about this.

    Also, I have no interest in rehashing the whole page numbers argument. The simplest explanation is this: [aiin] and [aiir] don’t look like page numbers and don’t remotely constitute a usable system.

    I’m really not sure how spending time considering all hypotheses equally is worthwhile. I tend to bracket out stuff which I judge to be obviously wrong.

  27. Emma: I didn’t say there would be distinctive numerals, what I said is that it seems likely that some form of number system would make itself visible across 200+ pages, whether Arabic numerals, Roman numbers, Greek numbers, or even longhand numbers. Numbers – such as quantities or dates – form in visually distinctive patterns, and I’m sure you’ve heard of Benford’s Law, yet we see nothing. You say that the apparent visual lack of any straightforward numbering system is of no concern to “linguistic research”: but if one of your working hypotheses is that Voynichese is not in any way encrypted, all I can say is that I think you’re bracketing out a problem in the form of missing numbers.

    As far as medieval page numbers go: aiir/aiiv/etc definitely formed a usable system (that was indeed used), of which we can only apparently see the exterior form in the Voynich Manuscript. If that happens to run counter to what you believe must be the case relative to their interior content, then all I can do is say (as with everything else listed in this post) the stuff on the page is what it is, bracket it all you like.

    In general, feel free to bracket everything else out on this page as hypothetical, if you think that makes your life easy.

  28. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 25, 2016 at 7:59 pm said:

    Nick. Ants and bees. Academics, scietists and linguists.

    The entire manuscript is written in numbers. Each character. Each letter also the number.
    This author writes on each side of the manuscript. As I wrote to you. So the handwriting is not herbarium. Do not look for plants. No search for plants.

    I will I wrote some text. From the manuscript page 93v. So you know after many years. Your efforts. As written manuscript ( MS 408 ). The manuscript is written in old Czech language.

    Text page 93 v :
    žin jez cdoe czezcoe zlovo sí posto coe co piz czezcoe znaj cdo sí ak zlof. oc co je zlt ššifa jej. zfíš czezc co ak zlt zlofo ččízel coez ej.

  29. Diane: For someone as concerned with precedence as you, I’m a bit amazed to see you ask the question whether anyone has considered that the script could be a conversion from fluent to block-like, since this is exactly how I see it, as I have told you on a number of occasions.

    In a comment from May 11 to your blog I say that even though it looks like “all caps”, I think it’s in fact “chopped up” fluent writing.

    But perhaps you were wondering if anyone with a “higher reputation” had considered it already.

  30. Thomas F. Spande on December 25, 2016 at 8:35 pm said:

    Dear all, A 102nd question to cogitate upon is whether yin-yang symbology exists in the VM botanicals? To me, it seems self-evident and is manifested in such aspects of the way the plants are laid out with: a) directionality i.e. leaves or roots all to the right or left of the plant stem; the limited color palate of blue (yang=male) or brown/red (yin=female) for the flower colors and the “comma” shape of many leaves and even flower petals. The yang shape is most clearly shown in the 5 overlays of the fern-like plant shown as f38r. I have expiated on this topic from day one, as to me, to be blindingly obvious although I seem a minority one only!

    Why is this idea resisted? I think because it indicates Eastern ideas, chiefly out of Asia. It received some attention in the European alchemical world with a door to some alchemical lab being labelled on the door posts as the correct way to enter and the left door post as the expected way to exit.

    The color blue for VM plant blossoms is rare with a few examples: lobelia, bachelor’s buttons and vinca minor springing to mind but not many more. In the world of yin-yang, blue represented the sky and the male tendency to philosophizing, speculation and invention while the brown/red/yellow represents the female’s more practical down to earth concerns. This is bound to be seen as pitching a cat among the pigeons but this is ancient, albeit politically incorrect, Eastern wisdom.

    I think it is indisputable also that many of the VM botanicals are accurate depictions of Indian spices, some are overlaid with yin-yang symbology and some, I think it has to be admitted are fanciful (like f45r with mouse-like leaves), One clear cut example is, I think, f25r, that depicts the mulberry plant. I have given roughly two dozen plant IDs in posts on Nick’s web site and stand by these.

    Diane has also provided some examples but has yet, it seems to me, to buy into ying-yang symbology in the VM. She does however agree that Hangul glyphs appear in the VM and some medieval art. These originated briefly in southern China and Korea.

    I have noted some evidence that Marco Polo’s voyages have influenced certain aspects of the VM and will reiterate some of these ideas anon.

    Diane has drawn attention to the “T” inscribed in a circle in her blog site. This simple depiction of the world was reemphasized by the revival of geographical concerns after the return of Polo from his 24 yr trip where the immensity of Asia (the hemicircle of the T-O depiction) was reemphasized with the quadrants for Europe and Africa completing the known world at the time. Diane has indicated the antiquity of “T-O” in her blog but one of the many footnotes to the preface of the two volume Dover set indicates this simple short-hand model was already known to St. Augustin.

    All for the moment, but hats off to Nick for gathering together some queries that might benefit from our attention.

    Cheers, Tom

    ps. I went to a church-related school but alas had no Latin. A professorial joke was St. Augustine is in FL; St. Augustin is in Heaven and there’s a big difference!

  31. Anton Alipov on December 25, 2016 at 8:49 pm said:


    What I mean is that what we are speaking of – character entropy or word entropy (whatever the order)? I think you mean character entropy, not word entropy. So you probably should have said that there’s few information in a Voynich character, not in a Voynich word.

  32. Anton: to be precise, what I think is low is the summed second-order entropy of the sequence of tokens in a Voynichese word. But given that parsing is the step that turns the stroke transcription into a sequence of tokens, this begs the question of what the correct way to parse Voynichese is. Of course, I don’t happen to know this, but at least I’m honest enough to include it as one of my 100 Voynich problems. 🙂

  33. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 25, 2016 at 10:24 pm said:

    So ants. This is what I wrote it is an old Czech language. Now I will write in a new Czech language. 🙂
    Text 93v.
    Žena je ta která české slovo píše. V této poště. Co písmo české zná a která slova píše.

    Google translation , English language. 🙂
    Text 93v.
    A women is. She writes that the Czech word. In this post. What font Czech knows. And who writes the words.

  34. Thomas F. Spande on December 26, 2016 at 3:42 am said:

    Nick, For those interested in that “T-O” world representation, It can be found in the extreme upper right hand corner of the “nine rosettes” fold-out.

    In the essay on the physical analysis of the VM facsimile by BD’s chum, Zyats, there is an account of using a PVC eraser to scrape off a bit of vellum for protein analysis. Subsequently it was determined that the VM vellum was calf skin. I have a problem with this assertion in that no controls (goat, pig, or sheep) were run. An interesting and useful journal title relevant to this topic is: “Animal origin of 13th-century uterine vellum revealed using noninvasive peptide fingerprinting.” PNAS, 2015

    The conclusion of this journal article is that in England, sheep skin was the most commonly used skin for vellums, in France it was calf skin and in Italy, it was goat skin.

    The PVC eraser was speculated in the PNAS article as applicable also for DNA analysis. It is relatively non-destructive.

    Cheers, Tom

  35. bdid1dr on December 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm said:

    Just so you know, folks, I was first to describe those those circular “doilies’ as rosettes. At that time, I mentioned that they were bodies of water. Diane and Ellie may be able to recall our discussions while you, Nick, and your fellow codiologists were convening at Mondragone.
    @Phillip Neal: On an earlier occasion, around the time Nick and fellow codiologists were convening near Frascati (Mondragone), I took the opportunity to visit your archive — beautiful!

    Nick, were you offended, in any way, with my translation of the inner circle of the “jigsaw puzzle” you posted recently? The phases of the moon and the tides.
    Also, I mentioned olive oil as maybe being used in some religious ceremonies. I admit that I got a tad silly; but I don’t think I was offending anyone. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. I am not an atheist
    Take a good look and the central figure of this particular ‘doily’ and you may be able find references to the nautical tides. The corner pieces of “jigsaw puzzle” are barely able to be read. Howsomever, there is mention of something oleageus….(oily) olive oil ? Blessing of the fleets? AND if this is Frascati — the Popes were quite nearby.

    Merry Christmas to y’all.

  36. To Thomas Spande: the determination of the species from which the parchment of the Voynich MS was made, was done using the same method, and by the same group, as that of the journal article you quote: Fiddyment et al. It is certainly reliable.

    With respect to word entropy, the single word entropy does not depend on the transcription alphabet used, as long as transcription is done consistently (i.e. the same word is transcribed consistently and differently from different words). The details of the transcription alphabet will just affect how the bits of information are distributed over the different characters.
    (This may sound counter-intuitive but can be easily demonstrated).

  37. Rene: there’s a whole host of articles and links on your site about first-order and second-order entropy calculations, including a summary of Bennett’s analysis as well as Dennis Stallings’ 1998 notes. The stuff that I find most problematic (in a nice way) is the comparison between second-order entropy calculations of Voynichese and other languages. The kind of first-order stuff you describe I don’t think is particularly revealing.

  38. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 26, 2016 at 5:16 pm said:

    Dear Zandbergen. I will be here on the blog asked. Where would I find. The picture that you have on your blog. Bottom right. It says the name of few characters.

  39. Thomas F. Spande on December 26, 2016 at 6:07 pm said:

    Dear Rene Zandbergen,

    OK, but the PNAS reference should have been cited.

    Also regarding Zyats et al., discussions of codicology in the VM facsimile essay on physical aspects of the VM, in my opinion, she and her colleagues were following a trail blazed much earlier (2006) by Nick. Consequently, a citation of “Curse” would have been appropriate.

    Still, I would like to see a DNA test done on the PVC eraser crumbs from several folios of the VM. Telling Voynichers that the VM vellum was calf skin begs the question: What species of cow?

    Cheers, Tom

  40. Nick,

    the tell-tale value for the Voynich MS is certainly the second-order, or conditional character character entropy, as you say. It is funny, though, that even with this anomalously low value, the word entropy is quite normal.
    The page in which I tried to make the link between the two is probably the least comprehensible at my site, but in order to redo it, I should also redo the calculations. This is on my To Do list, but quite far down.
    (I’m somewhat impressed that Reddy and Knight seem to have been able to make sense of it, though, as appears from their paper).

    The second order character entropy is only a single number, which incorporates all the strangeness of the ‘word pattern’, but it is nicely quantitative.

  41. Rene: what inflates the word entropy value relative to the per-word summed second-order entropy value is surely the anomalous ratio of unique words to total words, which is one of the problem areas flagged in this post.

    But what is perhaps even more problematic is that if you consider certain groups of glyphs as tokens (e.g. ol, or, al, ar, etc), I suspect you would get even more anomalous second-order entropy values. This, of course, is the parsing problem. :-/

  42. bdid1dr on December 26, 2016 at 9:47 pm said:

    Well, Gentlemen,
    Why don’t you take some ‘quiet time’ to consider the translation of the latin phraseology which appears on all four corners of Nick’s “jigsaw-puzzle”.
    Then consider what is being portrayed in the center of that puzzle: Here is a clue:
    What unearthly physical feature controls the ebbs and tides of our world?
    Another question: Why is oil (olive oil?) used for the parochial blessings and anointment? Is that same oil used for blessing the fleets before leaving the safe waters of the piers?
    I am neither Catholic, nor Protestant . Between the ages of 10 and 14 years old, I had read the Bible . Very interesting ! Just think of poor Thomas More. What justification did that Bishop have for killing Sir Thomas More ? If I am remembering correctly, all of Sir Thomas More’s children (including an unidentified young woman, escaped to Louvain) .
    So, I wonder how many languages were spoken by various mariners and on the many ships leaving Frascati for other shores.
    Could it be that the “Voynich” mss contains several dialects?

  43. Anton Alipov on December 26, 2016 at 10:10 pm said:

    Actually the percentage of unique vords is not anomalous. We discussed that on VN, it’s that one:

  44. Anton: what you seem to be arguing in that thread is that the high percentage of unique words would be reduced if those words apparently made unique by their position on the page (e.g. page-initial, paragraph-initial and sometimes line-initial) were discounted. Which is true (if a little tricky): but even so, I’m reasonably sure that the number of hapax legomena would still remain significantly higher than in normal languages – I’d guess perhaps as much as 40% or 50% larger.

    And back in the 15th century, dictionary sizes of normal languages were much smaller than in modern languages. As an example, the first Tuscan dictionary was probably “Le tre fontane di Messer Niccolò Liburnio in tre libri divise, sopra la grammatica, et eloquenza di Dante, Petrarcha, et Boccaccio” (1526), and I would be surprised if this listed as many unique words as are present in the Voynich Manuscript, even with position-dependent words discounted.

    And at the same time, the distribution of words-frequencies is definitely anomalous (particularly dain etc) as compared with natural languages. So there are still plenty of problems to be overcome here by everyone toiling in this particular field. =:-o

  45. bdid1dr: Frascati has many things, but a shore is not one of them. :-/

  46. Thomas F. Spande on December 26, 2016 at 11:44 pm said:

    BD, Thomas More refused to recognize Henry 8 as the head of the English church and insisted the Bishop of Rome was still the head. Note I have used the old Protestant title for the Pope (check the old 2nd ed of Websters),

    Hillary Mantel has written a marvelous trilogy (vols 1 and 2 are out; the second is entitled “Bring up the Bodies” so you get the flavor of things! The protagonist is Thomas Cromwell, adviser to Henry, yet a friend of More’s. He provided paper and pen to More for his diaries and when Cromwell asked him how he planned to spend his days in prison, he replied reading and praying to which Cromwell responded: Read little and Pray a lot! Henry would have freed him, which Cromwell urged on More, if he would only recognize Henry as head of the RC branch of the church (now known as Anglican), but he refused and was beheaded. Henry remained a staunch RC to the end BUT would not recognize the Pope as head of the church.

    I used to run a manuscript company with my late wife and we came upon the personal papers of Thomas Fairfax (grandfather of Lord Fairfax, employer of Geo. Washington, his surveyor). He had been one of Oliver Cromwell’s generals but drew back at regicide. What my wife found out, with her facility in reading Old English was that what we had was the results of the interrogation (close to an inquisition) of the churchmen in Yorkshire to find out how many were still using the book of Common Prayer. If so, you were kissed off as “as common haunter of alehouses”; If you had abandoned the Book of Common prayer you were “A man of good conversation”. The Yorkshire Historical Society bought it, sight unseen, after the Bodlian library called us a 4 AM EST as they wanted this baby back in England, pronto. They had a copy but what we had was an original with old rusty common pins holding little scraps of paper over errors.

    Cheers, Tom

    ps. I note in Zyats et al.’s account of the physical facts involving the VM, that scraps of paper were used to pad out the spine. Could this paper be original? If so, could it be traced, maybe a trace of a watermark remains? Paper came into Europe via the Moors in Spain in the early 1400s.

  47. Rene: thinking about it, the claim that transcription does not affect first-order statistics is not true, particularly for stroke-based transcriptions. The example of ‘did’ being transcribed as ‘clicl’: this would have the same first-order stats only if nothing else shared those strokes.

  48. Tom: the scraps of paper are modern without a doubt, and very probably added by Kraus’s guy (whose name escapes me).

  49. Anton Alipov on December 27, 2016 at 12:29 am said:


    Yes there was my investigation upon whether a vord’s position in the folio space implies its uniqueness or not, but that’s another tale.

    What I was specifically referring to is this post of Rene: closer to the (current) end of the thread where he made a rough approximation based on Zipf’s law and it appeared that the predicted percentage of unique words for the corpus of that size is quite what this percentage actually is in the VMS.

  50. Thomas F. Spande on December 27, 2016 at 1:47 am said:

    Nick, Dead end n+1. Cheers, Tom

  51. Thomas –
    I do not say there is “T-O” map included in the map (was folio 86v, now Beinecke f.85v-and-86r)

    I’ve said precisely the opposite, repeatedly and in detail. There are two plainly drawn roads leading from that site (used as emblem for direction North) to the wider world represented by the map, and one of them is plainly drawn as a highway set on an embankment. So smooth that you *could* get into that city on roller-skates. 🙂

    Further.. and I break the news here before publishing it elsewhere… having considered various locations as possible identifications for that half-palisaded site (which – again – is NOT a T-O diagram) I would offer a 90% probability that it represents the old and then the later site known as Tanais.


  52. Nick,

    all character entropy values are affected by the choice of the transcription alphabet: single / first-order, pairs / second-order etc.
    The word entropy value isn’t (conditional to the consistency I mentioned).

  53. Thomas F. Spande on December 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm said:

    Diane, I only saw the one post of yours and assumed it was part of an ongoing discussion that I had missed. I did not mean to put words into your mouth.

    I guess, since I had just seen that “known world figure” in one of the prefaces to the Voyages of Marco Polo, that I assumed your scholarship on VM imagery had turned it up also and that it meant the same to you as to Polo’s contemporaries and way earlier to St. Augustin.

    Your “breaking news” indicates otherwise. Sorry to inject confusion on this point. Still, using the same classic world depiction for two opposing ideas is also confusing.

    Good luck on the Magnum opus!

    Cheers and Happy New Year down there in Oz, Tom

  54. Rene: yet again entropy trips up communication. =:-o

    OK, we’re all sorted again (thank goodness). 🙂

  55. Giuseppe BIANCHI on December 28, 2016 at 8:06 am said:


    here it is!

    Maybe now you also have understood how Voynich was written…


    I did my bit, now you have to do your’s
    there should be someone who can access Voynich and can take and share a close photo!

  56. bdid1dr on December 28, 2016 at 6:26 pm said:

    However it is spelled Frascati has access downslope to Vietre (Vietry?) Sole Mare.

  57. Thomas F. Spande on December 28, 2016 at 10:35 pm said:

    Dear all, “Explor” raises in his post of 12-23, an interesting point about why the lines of the VM are strictly perpendicular to the spine, i. e; level. I append a useful link as to how it could have been done:

    Nick may likely have gone into this but I am blanking on any conclusions of his.

    Personally, I think it was done by “pricking” the start and end of each line. In fact it will be noted that the start of each folio of a single page of the VM is exactly the same (+/- 1mm) from the top edge. So a prick would do for both folios of a page. The ones I have checked are sometimes 2.5 cm; sometimes 3.0 cm from the top edge of the paper.

    On the “T-O world” figure: Seems to me this is more than entropy! It amounts to an idiosyncratic use that is not shared with most of humanity. I yield to Diane’s scholarship BUT she should in the course of exchanging ideas with other Voynichers footnote her take on “T-O” EVERY time it is referred to. Just “Ol’ Craze from the Basement!” Tom

    ps. I have visited one of the most ancient synagogues in Asia Minor (Sardis, Turkey) and only floral motifs were seen despite the prohibition for Jews and Moslems of using living things in their houses of worship— in short no star of David in Sardis,. That came along later. Likely it DID have some use as a symbol earlier that was not associated with Jews.

  58. bdid1dr on December 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm said:

    @ Mr. Bianchi,
    A very interesting presentation of the use of a triangle (measuring device) for creating the alphabetical characters which appear in medieval manuscripts. I am hearing impaired; so I was not able to follow your discussion entirely. I did notice your effort to keep your hands still while speaking to the camera.
    It is my own thinking that it was quite possible for medieval writers (monks?) to use various measuring devices such as were used for nautical compass logs.

    beady-eyed wonder

  59. Thomas F. Spande on December 29, 2016 at 8:38 pm said:

    BD and Bianchi, What glyph could you not represent with those “weird” “V” like flourishes on f1r? I remain unconvinced the Bianchi is onto anything but I would not discourage further approaches as to what the hey those creations do represent.

    Just a punctilio: I note that when a single-stemmed double looped gallows STARTS a line that contains all the single-legged gallows, that many occur on both folios of the same page: Examples are pp. 10, 13, 14, 19, 35; all by the looser scribe. In some (folios 13r, 13v, 35r) the lead glyph is at the start of paragraph 2. The loose and tight scribes seem to have different usages (or purposes for) of the single-stemmed gallows?

    I think from Diane’s “Breaking News” that she will have a real hill to climb to convince Voynichers that anything at all in the VM is a town at the mouth of the the Don River, a town now known as Rostov on the Don but was in the 3-4C a Greek settlement, Tanais at the mouth of the eponymous river, emptying into the Sea of Azov.

    See Wiki for the “T-O map” also “Mappa mundi” or “Orbis Terrarium” where the top of the map is always East (Orient) and the bottom quadrants are Europe (left most; direction North ccw to West) and Africa (right most; direction West ccw to South ). The Occident is at the bottom. Some maps include The Tanais River and the Nile (Nilus) River as well as Mare magnum (Mediterranean). Jerusalem was often the center of the variety of “T-O” maps; although some had the Mediterranean island of Delos at the center. The maps were also always surrounded by Oceanus (Mare oceanum). The origins of the map lie in antiquity with the three regions of the “T-O” map representing the sons of Noah with Shem settling Asia; Japeth (Lapeth) settling Europa and Sem settling Africa. In a maps of 1581 ( Magdeburg Germany), America is shown but from the shape is evidently South America, the reason why the Spanish in both Old and New Worlds refer to the US as North America!

    A lot of debate has ensued as to whether the ancients knew the earth was a globe and the betting is that they did, so early “Flat Earthers” were in the minority. The back of the “T-O” map had room for the “New World”.

    Cheers, Tom

  60. Thomas F. Spande on December 30, 2016 at 4:05 pm said:

    Dear Diane, For someone who claims to be using the “T-O” map only as an indicator of North and for the source of roads heading [westward] downward, from Europe you seem to have made ample use of one “T-O” version (Hereford “Mappa Mundi”; ca. 1300).

    On that “T-O” version, one of many, the River Tanais [now the Don] separates Asia from Europa while the Nilus separates Asia from Africa. The Tanais R. forms the left arm of the embedded “T” [providing at its end, “North]; the Nilus (Nile) the right arm of the “T” [ending at “South”]. This is hardly copyrighted and there is no shame attached to using it but to argue that you are using it only as a marker for “North” seems disingenuous to “Old Craze from the Basement”!

    Cheers, Tom

  61. Is EVA ‘qo-‘ a freestanding word?
    If you have a word starting with EVA ‘qo-‘ and you remove the leading ‘q’ this would usually result in a word which also occurs in the VMS. Moreover the frequency of both words are comparable. See for instance the frequencies for the following words:
    qoky (147 times) oky (102)
    qokshy ( 10 times) okshy ( 10)
    qokshey ( 8 times) okshey ( 9)
    qokshedy ( 11 times) okshedy ( 3)

    There are only three words starting with ‘qo-‘ and occurring more then four times where the removing of ‘q’ would not result in another word of the VMS. This three words are qokl (9 times), qool (4 times) and qotched (5 times). Therefore the answer is ‘qo-‘ is not a freestanding word.

  62. Torsten Timm: you’ve presented half of the argument (the “removing q-” half) here, but not the other half (the “removing qo-” half). In the case of qool and qotched, removing qo- would both produce words that appear in the Voynich corpus (though neither okl and kl appear in Voynichese).

  63. Thomas F. Spande on December 30, 2016 at 6:14 pm said:

    To Rene Zandbergen from Nuie, You have reproduced the Terpenecz signature in all its glory but below is a pair of two lines crossed with another pair and below this is a number “4”. I assume this was added later, maybe by Voynich or Kraus (?) or stepwise by both (?) and simply refers to the VM as a quarto volume. It is roughly quarto but the term for that originated much after the VM was created.

    Have you any idea what happened to VM p. 12? I come late to codicology as my interests have been mainly in trying to identify individual botanicals. But in the course of trying to figure out a role for the single-stemmed glyphs, I noted the unfortunate absence of that page. It is parked right in between pages of interest (to me anyway) Cheers and thanks for any help you might provide. Tom

  64. Nick: My argument is not that it is not possible to remove ‘qo’. In fact the sequence ‘qo’ alone occurs 29 times! My argument is that ‘qo’ consists of the two elements ‘q’ and ‘o’ since it is possible for this words to remove the leading ‘q-‘ leading to a word starting with ‘o-‘. The question therefore is why the words starting with ‘qo-‘ and the words with ‘q’ removed have comparable frequencies? Is there a relation between these words?

    The words where ‘qo’ is removed also fits into this pattern. The words resulting in removing ‘qo’ are usually less frequent if the glyph after ‘qo’ is a gallow glyph and more frequent if the glyph after ‘qo’ is a ‘d’ or ‘c’. See for instance:
    qoky (147 times) oky (102) ky (25)
    qokshy ( 10 times) okshy ( 10) kshy (5)
    qokshey ( 8 times) okshey ( 9) kshey (6)
    qokshedy ( 11 times) okshedy ( 3) kshedy (6)
    qodaiin ( 42 times) odaiin (60) daiin (863)
    qodain ( 11 times) odain (18) dain (211)

    Therefore I would reformulate your question “Why are so many words so similar?” to “What is the relation between similar words?”

    BTW: There are eleven words out of 150 starting with ‘qo-‘ and occurring more then four times where the removing of ‘qo’ would not result in another word of the VMS. This eleven words are qoedy (4 times), qokchd (6 times), qokdy (4 times), qokeal (4), qokear (6), qokedain (4), qokeedar (6), qokees (8), qokeod (8), qotcheedy (4) and qotees (4). (After Takahashi ‘kl’ is occurring in f105v.P.23 and in f107r.P.31.)

  65. Thomas,

    what you are referring to is another ex libris of Tepenec, that is, in another book. The crossed lines actually say N[umer]o, and the book in question is number 4 on a list. Unfortunately, we don’t have a copy of this list.

    On the Voynich MS it seems to say: N[umer]o 19, although the 19 is just my best guess. The recent Yale book has a better picture of the ‘signature’ and it still looks as if it is 19, but it could also be 1, or 13…..

  66. Torsten: back in 2006 in Curse, I posed the question of how qo- words should be decomposed / parsed, so this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. 🙂

    For qo[non-gallows]- words, the answer seems to be that you can almost always expect to remove the qo and get a sensible result.

    But for qo[gallows]- words, it’s not so straightforward. There, I suspect that the words behave much more as if it was a contraction of qo + o[gallows] instead. Which seems a little tricky, if not actually paradoxical.

    So we seem to have a situation where qo is a freestanding token not before gallows, and yet decomposes into qo + o[gallows] before a gallows.

  67. Nick: Even your assumed additional ‘o’ doesn’t answers the question why for a word starting with ‘qo-‘ nearly always a similar word starting with ‘o-‘ exists where both words occur with comparable frequencies.

    In my eyes it is so hard to decompose the words since something completely different is going on here. The most important point is that all the words in the VMS are more or less similar to each other. This happens since all the words are related to each other [see Timm 2014: p. 66-82]. Only because of this relations similar words occur with predictable frequencies.

  68. Torsten: of course, if there were two parsing pathways for qo- words depending on whether the following glyph is a gallows, then that would make an autocopying explanation hard to sustain. But I suspect that there are a fair few other asymmetries in the parsing tree (cfh and cph both spring to mind) that would also test the autocopyist hypothesis.

  69. Thomas F. Spande on December 30, 2016 at 11:57 pm said:

    Rene, Thanks. I see now that it amounts to a “hash” mark, i.e. “#”, Not as elegantly done as the “4”. Cheers, Tom

  70. Nick: The point is that for words occurring frequently enough (at least four times) always multiple similar words exists in the VMS.

    Let us assume a set of rules for the VMS where you get another word of the manuscript by applying a rule to another word:
    For the VMS the most basic rule is that a glyph can be replaced with a similar shaped glyph. For instance for a word containing ‘k’ most probably also a word containing ‘t’ instead of ‘k’ exists.
    The second rule is that nearly every glyph can be removed. Because of this rule you can expect beside the word ‘cheedy’ also the words ‘chedy’, ‘cheed’, ‘cheey’ and less likely ‘eedy’.
    A third more complex rule is that you can add a glyph at the beginning of a word. For instance it is possible to add an ‘o’ in front of a word. In this case the letter next to ‘o’ normally transforms into a gallow glyph.
    Because of this rule you can find beside ‘cheedy’ also words like ‘okeedy’ and ‘oteedy’. But since ‘o’ is sometimes added without transforming the next glyph into a gallow glyph also the word ‘ocheedy’ exists.

    For instance if we start with ‘qoky’, ‘qoty’ and ‘qody’ we would get the following lines:
    qoky (147 times) oky (102) ky (25)
    qoty (87 times) oty (115) ty (16)
    qody (17 times) ody (46) dy (270)

    With the three rules assumed so far we would be able to transform this lines into a single tree starting with the most frequent word ‘dy’:
    Level 1: dy (270 times)
    Level 2: oty (115), oky (102 times), ody (47)
    Level 3: qoky (147 times), qoty (87 times), ky (25), qody (17), ty (16)

    Because multiple rules exists the frequency of a word is determined by all possible ways to change another word into this word! This way all the words in this tree depend on each other. As more frequent a word is as more possible ways to generate this word exists!

  71. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 3:05 am said:

    Rene, I append a paragraph from the New Yorker on the origin of what is in the era of Twitter known as the “hashtag” or earlier as the number sign or a symbol from the phone keypad:

    “The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb,” for the Roman term libra pondo, or “pound weight.” Like many standard abbreviations of that period, “lb” was written with the addition of a horizontal bar, known as a tittle, or tilde (an example is shown above, right, in Johann Conrad Barchusen’s “Pyrosophia,” from 1698). And though printers commonly cast this barred abbreviation as a single character, it was the rushed pens of scribes that eventually produced the symbol’s modern form: hurriedly dashed off again and again, the barred “lb” mutated into the abstract #. The symbol shown here on the left, a barred “lb” rendered in Isaac Newton’s elegant scrawl, is a missing link, a now-extinct ancestor of the # that bridges the gap between the symbol’s Latin origins and its familiar modern form. Though it is now referred to by a number of different names—“hash mark,” “number sign,” and even “octothorpe,” a jokey appellation coined by engineers working on the Touch-Tone telephone keypad—the phrase “pound sign” can be traced to the symbol’s ancient origins. For just as “lb” came from libra, so the word “pound” is descended from pondo, making the # a descendent of the Roman term libra pondo in both name and appearance.””

    Its appearance on f1r of the VM by Terpenc is early if done in mid 17thC in the form we see, i.e. #. Another VM oddity. Cheers, Tom

  72. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 31, 2016 at 12:00 pm said:

    Tom. 🙂 I have to praise you after. Finally, I see that you are using logic. And that’s good. Think about it.

    🙂 book….Library….#…N ( umer ) O….4. 🙂 Libra Pondo.

    Zandbergen writes. Unfortonately, we don’t have a copy of this list. Ex libris Tepenec # is number 4 on a list.

    That’s what I asked him. Of course it is not bookplates ( ex libris ). It’s probably the signatur of what he sent Hurych ( Šlajsna ). Tepenec at the end life a manager at Melnik. Dowry town of Czech queens. 1450 at that time there was Barbora of Cilli. Wife of King Sigismund.

    But the manuscript was founded in after the 1460.
    The autor was a very good cryptographers.

    Cheers, J.Z.P.

  73. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 4:06 pm said:

    Dear Rene and Prof., I have still a lingering suspicion that “#” is a symbol that likely wouldn’t be used as early as the mid 17th C. Also does “4” have to be a manuscript in his own library? Why not i) Rudolph’s or someone else’s?; ii) why not the VM being one of four copies of some specific kind of MS, like alchemical or botanical texts? iii) how can we be certain that the {“# 4”) was even written by Terpencz? For an elegant signature, the “hashtag” is scrawled with evident haste and carelessness. A kid could have done a better job! The number “4” is carefully done. Was that number done before the hashtag and the “#” added later, maybe even much later, by someone else as an explanatory symbol?

    The possibility ii) is just a refinement of Rene’s interpretation of that brief commentary appended below Terpencz’s signature. Incidentally we all owe Rene a tip of the hat for his very fine UV work to bring this whole topic to our attention.

    I may have squeezed all the blood out of that Terpencz “turnip” and will give that topic a rest for the moment.

    Cheers, Tom

    ps. A last and less likely possibility for (“# 4”) is that the present VM is the fourth iteration of the manuscript, i.e. three others exist somewhere as a dusty pile in some monastery?

  74. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 4:58 pm said:

    Dear all and particularly “tfs”, A glance at the pretty useful layout of the VM on supplied by Bax, indicates that 102v1 has that substantial missing section at the bottom BUT the missing part is just discernible at the lower right corner of the obverse f102r1. It is seen cleanly in the facsimile. Bax tends to cut off the bottoms of his folios so the pages are often truncated with, for example, useful root views of the botanicals partially missing.

    So, that excision along the mould line occurred in the hands of Yale’s curators. They are photographing the VM foldout and got the recto side (f102r1 of the p 102 bifolio foldout OK but when flipped to do the other side, f102v1, that part was “AWOL”. It has to have happened during the photographing because we have a “before (stained but OK)” and “after (defective)” version. Perhaps the photographer took a break between recto and verso and that;s when the mischief happened, like someone grabbing off a sample of vellum for their own nefarious purpose while the photographer was having lunch?

    Detective work on top of detective work!

    But the original on the Yale library site should have the full page layouts, just that with the facsimile, that site is now sort of redundant and I suspect BD is right, that it may not be there much longer for our viewing pleasure!

    Cheers, Tom

  75. Tom: I don’t believe that any piece of the Voynich Manuscript has gone missing in the last century, and I also don’t believe that the Beinecke has any plans to take its online scans down any time soon.

    I also don’t see any “mould line”: in the facsimile, I can see the shadow that the bottom cut edge of f102r1 casts onto f103r (the first page of the ‘recipe’ section), and the larger shadow that the bottom cut edge of f102v1 casts on f101r2 (that had been folded forwards on top of f101v1 when the scan was made). Hope this helps!

  76. “Why are so many words so similar?”
    The whole VMS is based on words similar to each other.

    Similar words are not independent from each other. In my last post I have demonstrated relations for words similar to ‘dy’. The same relations can also be demonstrated for words similar to ‘daiin’, ‘ol’ and ‘chedy’.

    For ‘daiin’ the tree of similar words starting with ‘qo-‘ or ‘o-‘ has the same characteristics. There are more words starting with ‘ok-‘ or ‘ot’ then with ‘od-‘ and the word starting with ‘qok-‘ is even more frequent.
    Level 1: daiin (863 times)
    Level 2: okaiin (212 times), otaiin (154 times), odaiin (60)
    Level 3: qokaiin (262 times), qotaiin (79 times), kaiin (65), taiin (42), qodaiin (42)

    The same is true for words similar to chedy:
    Level 1: chedy (510 times)
    Level 2: otedy (155 times), okedy (118 times), ochedy (8)
    Level 3: qokedy (272 times), qotedy (91 times), kedy (44), tedy (42), qochedy (2)

    For ‘ol’ the ‘o’ is not replaced with a gallow glyph. Instead a gallow glyph was added between the two ‘o’-s.
    Beside this specific feature the tree for ‘ol’ shares the same characteristics:
    Level 1: ol (537 times)
    Level 2: otol (86 times), okol (82 times), ool (-)
    Level 3: qokol (104 times), tol (48), qotol (47 times), kol (37), qool (4)

    The words in the VMS are connected to each other by a set of rules. Therefore they share the same characteristics and therefore they are similar to each other.

  77. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 7:55 pm said:

    Nick, I puzzled over the “mould line” on 102r1 wondering if it could be a water stain, but ruled that out as not likely to damage a good vellum and why just this one page. I just do not see any shadow on 103r; to my eyes none at all!

    I got into this over your observation that a deliberate cut had evidently been made to perhaps excise a previous owner’s name and when I got to the locus of your observation, I thought why so concerned over a little triangle excised from 102 r2/v2 when a whole bunch more of the adjacent vellum is missing. I see a huge spot of foxing on 103r that is also seen on 102v1 where the fox spot also appears and even on 102v1. This foxing made me think “mould” for the line that you see as a shadow. It also established the page layout is the same when the VM was photographed.

    You are right that the missing vellum from 102v1/102v1 allows f101r2 appear underneath. To me that is unexpected as I ask myself, where the hey is the expected (to me) 101v2??? Was this the original positioning of p101 or could that have been flipped? And how is it possible to see it with the mould-line bordered part of 102v1 still in place?

    I am working from the facsimile but maybe not all are equivalent? Mine definitely shows NO shadow on 103r. Are you maybe referring to a shadow cast by the photographic process. I would guess that strong lights were used and that might cast a shadow but transient only, Still puzzled here but I thought I had figured it out, i.e. the “mould-line” bordered chunk of vellum of 102r1 was gone. Otherwise how can 101r2 be visualized? If this indeed happened, an unlikely (I would admit) event happened during the photography of the VM folios by Yale or a contractor.

    Cheers, Tom


  78. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 8:01 pm said:

    Nick, oops. I meant pp f102r1 NOT f102v1 on line 9 above where some foxing is still evident. Please repair if possible. Thanks in advance. Tom

  79. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 9:17 pm said:

    Nick, Maybe I have relied too much on those foxing stains for the paging of the VM pages 101 and 102. If these be ignored, then if the p 102 bifolio be REVERSED, end for end i.e. r1/v1 for r2/v2, and placed AHEAD of p101, which remains unchanged, the gap in f102v1/v2 lines up over f101r2. In short, the foxing might be of recent vintage and should be ignored in codicology studies. Maybe you have already been there, done that? Cheers, Tom

  80. bdid1dr on December 31, 2016 at 9:45 pm said:

    @ ThomS & ProfZ : Be aware that both Diane and (apparently) myself have been declared personnae non gratis. Me — probably because I identified the feature which is central to his “jigsaw puzzle” and I translated the ‘latin’ (Spanish?Italian?) which appears in each corner of the folio/page. I admit I was a little bit silly. I will admit to one other ‘misdemeanor’ on this same ‘Puzzle’ : He told me that Frascati had no access to the wharves two hundred feet below the mountain. I answered him (for the Pope’s blessing of the fleets) — one word “Trieste” .
    I am fully aware that he may be dumping this last contribution to his mystery pages (he already has dumped my earlier identification of the moon and its most important feature : creating the waves in large bodies of water (tides).

  81. bdid1dr: I’ve taken to moderating out posts that (a) make the poster look foolish, and (b) make me look foolish for approving them. For example, posts that assume Frascati is by the coast, etc.

  82. Tom: there is nothing missing, there is no mould, f102 is a multipanel folio that can cast a shadow on the page behind it.

  83. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 10:43 pm said:

    Nick, I only got into this debate over the missing piece of vellum that might have revealed an owner’s (second?) name, a topic you raised. I have no strong feelings about my argument and am willing to move on.

    Planning now to look at the ampersand and what role it might play in the VM.

    A belated Happy New Year, The Dec 31 midnight observance will have passed when you read this.

    Cheers, Tom

  84. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 31, 2016 at 10:59 pm said:

    Ants and bee.
    Torsten Timm : Why are so many words so similar ?? The whole VMS is based on word similar to each other.

    Ants an bee. That would’ve had to deal with. And try to find out why this is so. It looks so good Timm will bee. Of course I know why. There is only so much the same words.

    Ants. You are using and working with the alphabeth that’s bad. Now I’ll shows you what they mean yours gallows.
    Caracters are letters. =
    M – emblem is number 4. reads = m,d,t.
    H – emblem is number 5. reads = e,h,n.
    P – emblem is number 8. reads = f,p.
    lt – embem is duo number. (3+4) L reads = c,g,s,l….T reads = d,m,t.


    BD. do not be proud. You do not why. Manuscript not herbarium. Your research is wrong. I’m sorry. You’re smart ant. And you have the stamina.

    I wish you all a nice new year.

  85. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 31, 2016 at 11:11 pm said:

    Sorry BD. Your research is not wrong. I’m sorry…..etc.

  86. Thomas F. Spande on January 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm said:

    Dear all, I remain steadfast in that the numbers 4, 8, 9 that appear often in the VM are derived from the ARMENIAN alphabet. If laid out from A to Z and numbers assigned with A=1 etc.,then 4=d; 8=e; and 9=t. So the often occurring glyph pair “89” is equal to the Latin “et”. Many ancient languages like Arabic and Hebrew also used letters for numbers.

    Additional VM glyphs that are seen in the VM are the “tipped 2” which is “ch” since Armenian is a phonetic language with 39 characters. The professor will recognize the reforms in his language made by Jan Hus where the tiny “v” atop a letter like “c” makes it “ch” as seen with Kovac really being Kovach. Armenian however, like the VM, uses no diacriticals outside of that “curlicue (BD’s term) atop C-C.

    Other Armenian glyphs encountered in the VM are: the “8” like glyph that has a rocker at the base and is not closed up. This is the Armenian glyph for “f” and appears frequently as “eaf” =”leaf” in the VM. “O” appears often in Armenian despite it being introduced, like the “f”, in the 14C whereas the rest of the Armenian language was created by a Bishop Mashtots (allegedly complete in a dream) in the 5thC.

    Now I am embarked on why the “&” also occurs in the VM when “89” would seem to supply the need for the conjunction “and”. At the moment, I lean to the idea that it generally marks the end of a sentence, although it might just be the appearance of “redundancy” in the VM.

    Cheers, Tom

  87. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on January 1, 2017 at 5:28 pm said:

    Large and hardworking bee Tom.
    Why would the Czech manuscript was written the Armenian alphabeth ? 🙂

    This is what I will writte. It is one hundred percet true. 🙂
    I will write you one more hint.
    All these are just numbers. 🙂
    No plants !!! But numbers. Each letter is a number !

    The manuscript is written i very complicated and enrypted. It is important to know the key. It is written on the side of 116. In the old Czech language. Otherwise phonetics is used only for a single character.

    Cheers, J. Zlatoděj Prof.

  88. Thomas F. Spande on January 1, 2017 at 6:55 pm said:

    Professor. I do not think the VM is written in Armenian but only that some Armenian glyphs occur in it. The giveaway, to me, is the frequent occurrence of “89” for the Latin conjunction “et”. This result is, as I have indicated, the eighth and ninth letters of Armenian when the alphabet is laid out from their A onward. And the result converted to Latin letters. See “Armenian alphabet” in Wiki. Cheers, Tom

  89. Thomas F. Spande on January 1, 2017 at 7:10 pm said:

    Nick, One final punctillio on the gap in the bifolio f102 r2/v2 that reveals f 101r2 to appear. This can easily be accommodated if the bifolio 101r2 is folded IN THE REVERSE manner so that the the recto folio overlays the verso side of p101. My last post on this subject!

    Cheers, Tom

  90. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on January 1, 2017 at 9:23 pm said:

    ….the giveaway, to me, is the …..of ” 89 “,…etc.

    Sure, I can tell. You ants are using wrong ( bad ) alphabeth.
    8 is number sing. Expresses letter = P and F.
    q sing. Not a number 9. It’s the letter Q. This is the letter = A,I,J,Q,Y. Number first ( 1.)
    Cabalistic numerologistic system gematria. Jew.

    I do not understand one thing. And that’s it. A clever scientist wrote. The manuscript is written in an unknown script.

    I read the sing well. 🙂

    Cheers, J.Zlatoděj prof.

  91. Thomas F. Spande on January 2, 2017 at 1:07 am said:

    Professor, The VM is largely Latin with some English. Can you write Czech without diacriticals?

    I do not think the VM uses any unknown language but the gallows are imports from< I think, the Indian subcontinent. The inverted gamma I think is a null character. It invariably follows a vowel. That's it for the moment. I do not think "4" is a "q" but on this I seem in the minority, Cheers, Tom

  92. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on January 2, 2017 at 3:31 pm said:

    Tom. VM 408 . NO Latin, no English.
    ( diacriticals ? ) 🙂 Of course I can read the text without diacritics. ( original text). It’s difficult bud it’s possible. For five hundred years are you changed the language. Each language has a certain development.

    The gallows – are sings letters. I will show the character – M. Character is composed of two letters. Small t. ( tt = M). Why ? Because it expresses the number fourth 4. Gematrie number 4 = M,m. T,t. D,d.
    Tom , it is important to know the alphabeth. I will tell you one important thing. The character that you are reading, as a number 4. 🙂
    Not her number. 4 no number !! Here is in small letter = p. 🙂

    Mostly it in the text you read in the word = post. 🙂
    ( in Czech language – post ). ( in English language – post ) 🙂

    This is the only word that you will be able to detect. ( recognize ).
    I’ll show – post. = 4olt.
    This word is often repeated in the text. There is always the author writes. Who is and what it’s called. ( name ).

    Cheers. Váš učitel.

  93. I agree with SirHubert. Are we sure the text has a meaning? More fundamentally, Rene Zandenbergen’s site suggests “Why was it done” is the more interesting question.

    It might for example be a mock-up by some charlatan to make money, either by selling it, or by posing as an alchemist/doctor/other expert. (Or maybe s/he wasn’t after profit, but just wanted to hoodwink people for the joy of it – kind of an early troll.)

    If that was the case, some of the above problems (“qokedy qokedy really?”) are explained, or even become meaningless. However because the textual entropy is still there, you get another group of problems involving how the not-quite-nonsense text was generated.

  94. Ken: it has been proposed many times (since at least the 1920s, I believe) that the Voynich’s text might be meaningless. This is a meta-theory that even today has plenty of proponents, each one offering slightly different variants on the theme (e.g. that it was generated using tables, or by autocopying, etc).

    My own belief is that the strong orderedness of the letter patterns within words and numerous deep statistical patterns that are present in the text could not have been added as part of a randomising stage, which you can accept or ignore as you like. However, recent statistical analyses have offered more numerically persuasive arguments, for example strongly concluding that Voynichese is meaningful (though in a deep way).

    In my opinion, both first order and second order textual entropy results strongly argue against randomness: and indeed randomness itself is a modern numerical conceit, one which would have been alien to anyone writing this text before 1500 (as the radiocarbon dating seems to suggest). There is also no obvious evidence that frequency analysis was used in pre-1500 *European* cryptology, so the idea that someone would create a system to mimic a specific set of entropy results would seem to be a modern back-projection onto the canvas of the evidence.

  95. SirHubert on January 2, 2017 at 6:45 pm said:

    Ken: there are different forms of ‘randomness’. I accept Nick’s view that some proposals for how the text might have been generated look unacceptably modern. I don’t think this criticism applies equally to all, however.

    Basically, we’ve long known from empirical observation that Voynichese looks like/behaves like/feels like a natural language in some respects, but doesn’t in others. You can express this descriptively or present it mathematically in terms of of first and second order entropy.

    Personally, I think a point which is sometimes missed is that made-up languages often seem to look like natural ones anyway, not through a conscious desire to replicate statistical properties but just because the hoaxer naturally has those natural language patterns in mind anyway. I dimly recall a fake medium who made up a version of ‘Martian’ which was curiously like French – her native tongue – in grammar, and which could be written down in a standard vowelled alphabet.

    Her name escapes me and I’m writing in haste, sorry!

  96. SirHubert: it was Hélène Smith.

  97. Thomas F. Spande on January 2, 2017 at 9:03 pm said:

    Dear Nick, To copy one query of yours from “100 problems”, over the original tinting chiefly applied to the botanicals of the VM: “Were the original paints all organic washes derived from plants etc?”

    It is unfortunate that McCrone in their pigment analysis apparently did not sample any of the original lighter “washes” or water colors or inks or whatever that gave more of a tint than the later-application of more intense, more opaque coloration. On nearly every one of the botanicals, one can find neatly applied light greens, tans, browns and blues. What we see now may have faded a lot. Yellows seem missing. Still, Raman spectra in the reflectance mode might rule out a mineral origin for the original coloration and rule in plant pigments like chlorophyll for greens, nut and bark pigments for tans and browns, or diluted indigo from shell fish for the blue?

    This is not an unimportant point as the original pigment’s origin might be traceable.

    Cheers, Tom

  98. @Nick, you write it yourself. “randomness is a modern numerical conceit, one which would have been alien to anyone writing this text before 1500.” How can you expect from someone before 1500 that he would be able to generate something random? Moreover, as far as I know cognitive processes have virtually no way of generating truly random events. It would be like trying not to think of something. Therefore I didn’t find it surprising that something written in medieval times resembles more to human language then to a random text generated by a computer.

    BTW: For sure the statistics are an unintended side effect of the way the text of the VMS was generated. My argumentation is that there is to much order in the VMS [see Timm 2014, p. 7].

  99. Torsten: it may seem odd to you but there are plenty of people who think (wrongly) that Voynichese is either random or randomnesss shaped to conform to a certain frequency pattern. Gordon Rugg’s account would seem to fit the latter description.

    And yet there was before 1500 in Europe no useful conception of randomness or indeed frequency analysis.

    Gordon tries to climb out of that hole by shifting the creation date forward by more than a century, but that fails to work.

  100. Nick: Your argumentation was that the text in the VMS is not ranom and must therefore be meaningfull. But if the text was genereated manually you can’t expect random events no matter if the text is meaningfull or meaningless.

  101. Torsten: I was arguing against a mistaken (but still fairly wide-spread) explanation for the Voynichese text, that it was random or randomness shaped to match an imagined frequency count profile and/or second-order entropy. That is, that the Voynich Manuscript is not a real object but a simulacrum designed to mimic the properties of an (unknown) object by harnessing the output of some kind of random process.

    Gordon Rugg tries to square that particular circle by proposing that the text was generated manually but using clumps of text arranged in tabular form, which would – if suitably arranged and arrayed – stochastically mimic much of the first-order and second-order entropy results.

  102. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on January 3, 2017 at 1:18 pm said:

    Nick. The manucript is not based on some random process. The manuscript has a fixed order.
    Nothing in it is not a coincidence.

  103. Thomas F. Spande on January 3, 2017 at 7:58 pm said:

    Nick et al., I think one can observe on f46r a faint “crown-like” transfer from f46v where the inked outline of the plant blossom calyx (at ca. 2 o’clock) but only that one, is transferred but no color (as is more common) is seen. So part of the blossom depiction transfers but no color, indicating clearly a gap between the timing of the plant drawing and the coloration.

    The frequent occurrence of “8am” (= eam) in the VM botanical texts indicates a feminine gender for at least some plants when referred to in the third person pronoun “that”. On checking a number of sources, in old Latin, ALL plants were considered feminine. Now the rule is that the gender has to match the genus of the plant, with most genera being feminine. Nearly all trees are feminine. As I am a neophyte in Latin, I am writing to Latin users, in a “language that is neither yours nor mine” Cheers, Tom

  104. ‘What is driving the differences between Currier A and Currier B?’
    In one of my last posts I have shown that the frequencies for the words similar to ‘chedy’ are related to each other since this pattern did also occur for other words similar to each other. If the frequencies of similar words are related to each other this words must depend in some way on each other.

    The word ‘chedy’ is the most frequent word in Currier B. Surprisingly it never occurs on pages in Currier A. If the words similar to ‘chedy’ depend in some way on ‘chedy’ we would expect that this words also are rare or will never occur on pages in Currier A. And indeed words containing the sequence ‘ed’ only occur in Currier B! On the other side there are words like ‘chody’ and ‘cheody’. They occur in Currier A and in Currier B.

    Whereas elements known from Currier A did also occur in Currier B this did not happen the other way around. In my eyes the most plausible explanation for this feature is a shift from ‘od’ to ‘ed’ while writing the text. If this is the case the proportion of words in B language for each page should reveal the initial order for the pages. And indeed it is possible to reorder the sections of the VMS in a way that there is a steady increase of words in Currier B. If I’m right the initial order for the sections in the VMS was: Herbal in Currier A, Pharmaceutical section, Astronomical section, Cosmological section, Herbal in Currier B, Stars and Biological section.

  105. Ravenhurst on January 7, 2017 at 2:06 am said:

    “Dain dain dain”, really?

    In Vigenere cipher, when key contains consecutive letters, like DEF or STU, then if these key fragments overlap with the same plaintext fragments, then single letter repetitions will occur in cipherext. And if Vigenere intermediate ciphertext is mapped to syllabes (letters to syllabes, maybe with some homophony), then the repeated words phenomenon will occur.

  106. bdid1dr on January 12, 2017 at 10:59 pm said:

    @ Nick: Have you had the opportunity, yet, to go online (I use Adobe) to view every item in Fray Sahagun’s Florentine Codex — and compare every labeled item with most, if not all, of the contents of the so-called “Voynich” manuscript (which was Sahagun’s diary, first of all. I mean the Florentine Codex identifies every single item: botanical, wildcats (jaguar and Ocelot), dogs (Chihuahua–as food for humans), varieties of corn, dangerous insects, silkworms caterpillars, .large birds fishing to fill the fishermen’s nets iguanas, ants galore, termites, scorpions, deadly snakes. Just to name a few items which appear in Sahagun’s ‘diary-rough draft’ of everything in “New Spain”.

    When are we going to get past the EVA dain, qoqeedy, ‘gallows (which actually are the Preferatory combined syllables for such words as Prefix, Preparation, Papal, Professor — and some combined alphabetical words such as
    Prescription .
    Even today, here in the US, we can find our drugstore/pharmacy: Rexall
    We look for the Rx sign. As far as I know, the Rexall Chain is still in business. Perhaps ThomS might be able fill in the blanks?

  107. Az Bounouara on January 13, 2017 at 4:54 am said:

    hi guys , it is 2017 and you still can not find one word to read . you know why ? it is because of the bax partial decoding which most follows blindly . and the wrong tests done on the manuscript which did not give the accurate date . and you ask me why before code breakers could not find a solution i say because they have no facilties like us now ,especially in medieval time , and after world war most of them are not open to other languages as we are now . nowadays and thanks to the “computuration” . i have a question : how many languages and dialects Freedman knew so he could decipher the ms408?

  108. Az Bounouara: Friedman knew about the structure of numerous languages, to the point that he broke Japanese cipher systems in WW2. He was also a firm believer in the power of machine decryption. Tiltman was as good a codebreaker, but specialised in manual ciphers.

  109. Az Bounouara on January 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm said:

    Nick : it is true but voynich manuscript has its own unique structure . Japanese is ONE language that is keeping pace with the time of friedman regardless its derivation and dialects . voynich manuscript is old and could be a mixture of languages and dialects which also lost many words by time ;besides the secrets and hidden methods that the author used in his/her writings . i gave u a tip now . if u want to know more about ms408 structure contact me on my email adress . may be i can help out.

  110. bdid1dr on January 15, 2017 at 6:20 pm said:

    BTW, Nick: It was Friedman’s WIFE who first translated/decoded for the US Coast Guard : Prohibition (of alcoholic beverages). After their marriage, she continued to work as a specialist in translating and/or decoding. Things got really crazy when Tiltman took over — and began corresponding with French codiologists.


  111. bdid1dr on January 15, 2017 at 6:40 pm said:

    Somewhere, some time (hopefully soon) there may be a surviving WWII codiologist who can fill in the blanks of the US Military codiological teams. I’m pretty sure that Valjean Joshevema and his Hopi/Navajo codiologist relatives have passed their knowledge on to their ‘next generations’.

    Hopi history has it that their ancestors came to North America via “‘hole in the ground”. Hopi girls become women when they celebrate the “Blue Corn” ceremony.


  112. bdid1dr on January 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm said:

    @ ThomS : My apology for this delayed explanation of what those wing-like figures were trying to tell us: They were illustrating HOW the folios were to be bound inside of that wing-like (leather?) cover.


  113. bdid1dr on January 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm said:

    So, Nick: I hope you are going to be visiting the US (as you mentioned several days ago). So, if it should be a visit longer than you expected, and maybe many delays in your return to home, post a “HELP” message on your blog ! Though we live on the West Coast, perhaps we (my husband and I) can offer accommodations/meals in our home or our large trailer on our ranch property.


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